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Are you too acidic?
What to know about alkaline food and its benefits
Envision some of the foods you regularly crave. Pizza. Steak. Hamburgers. The All-American diet. Of course, these items are delicious, but meat and carb-heavy foods you’ve grown accustomed to may be putting you at risk for chronic disease. And the reason for that may come down to these two words: pH imbalance.
To understand the importance of your body’s pH balance, let’s start with the basics.
The pH (potential of hydrogen) scale measures just how acidic or how alkaline a solution is. It’s based on a scale of 0 to 14, where the lower the pH the more acidic, and the higher the pH the more alkaline. And when a solution is completely neutral, like water, it has a pH of 7.
In order to survive, your blood must maintain a very delicate pH balance range of 7.35 to 7.45. Any time a pH imbalance occurs and results in acidic blood that is out of this range, the blood becomes unable to deliver adequate oxygen and protect the body from disease. It’s sort of a systemic danger zone.
Luckily, your body is equipped with several control mechanisms that help regulate your pH and protect you from falling into this danger zone.
But like any good piece of machinery, your body can become less efficient if you keep filling it with the wrong type of fuel. Wait, fuel? Yes, fuel, or in your body’s case, food.
The Alkaline Body
Every single type of food has its own pH. Some foods, such as avocado and quinoa, are alkalizing and have an alkaline effect on the body. Other foods, like most meats and dairy, are acidifying and make it more difficult for the body to function.
The stomach is very acidic, with a pH of 3.5 or below, so it has no trouble breaking down alkaline foods. The American diet, however, is largely comprised of acid-forming foods, which means that the majority of Americans are placing a heavy acidic burden on their bodies and straining their blood’s regulation system.
What are acidic foods?
Acidic foods are anything you consume with a pH under 7. Some examples of acidic foods are coffee, most processed foods, certain dairy products, sugar, processed or cured meats and a variety of other items.
If you regularly eat a large amount of acidic food, like processed meals from a fast food restaurant or drink lots of coffee, eventually, your body just can’t keep up so it turns to other ways of protecting itself. Unfortunately, these alternate methods can trigger an entirely new set of problems that can lead to weight gain and the onset of chronic diseases like kidney failure and diabetes.
As if your body didn’t have enough challenges neutralizing a heavily acidic diet, you should also know that lifestyle can play a role in pH imbalance. Alcohol, caffeine and medication have also been shown to create greater acidity levels with our bodies. Stress can also cause higher acidity in the body, and high levels of stress are related to all sorts of physical and mental conditions. And in today’s society, each of these factors seems to have taken up permanent residence.
How to Alkalize Your Body
Fortunately, by filling up on alkaline foods, you can actually help detoxify your body, avoid having overly acidic blood and counter the acidic impact of both diet and lifestyle. Of course, the ultimate goal is balance. It’s unrealistic to get rid of acid-forming foods altogether. Ideally, you should aim for 75% of your diet to be composed of alkaline foods and 25% of your diet to be acidic.
One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to build your meals around vegetables and fruits — most are alkaline in nature. There are some fruits, like lemons, that have an acidic pH outside the body, but when eaten are metabolized into an alkaline solution. You should also do your best to avoid refined carbohydrates (pasta, crackers, breads), dairy products (milk, cheese) and animal proteins (meat, chicken).
Many health professionals, including Dr. Mark Hyman, recommend following a diet that’s rich in alkaline food for ultimate health and wellness. One way to supplement your diet and work on correcting your pH imbalance is to drink alkaline water. Water typically has a neutral pH of 7, but when you make the water more alkaline, it can help to counter acidity in the body. In order to become alkaline, water must have alkaline minerals added to it, such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. In addition to reducing the amount of acid present, some experts believe that alkaline water can also support the immune system and help with weight loss.
Making the choice between alkaline vs. acidic
A properly alkalized body may not only restore your health, it may restore your entire sense of well-being. It’s true that processed foods can be tempting, but think of the disservice you’re doing your body by loading it up with acidic items. Taking the time to alkalize your body is one of the most compassionate things you can do for yourself. In today’s world, we often forsake our health for convenience, and in turn, we suffer. But the wonderful thing is that all of that can change in an instant. It is just up to you to give that change the green light.
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